Since the classic The Care & Keeping of You, books explaining the changes of puberty tweens can expect have been essential for parents to gift their children. Reading a book in privacy that answers all of the questions about things like sprouting pubic hair is more comfortable than getting a lecture from your parent! There are dozens of pages of information to cover on healthy relationships, how hormones work, acne, body odor, voice dropping, menstruation, and cliques, so books like the four we’ve curated below will get all of the information across so your child can come to you with questions but you don’t need to have every single talk with them.
- Puberty Is Gross, but Also Really Awesome by Gina Loveless and Lauri Johnston
- The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families by Rachel E. Simon and Noah Grigni
- You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth
- You-ology: A Puberty Guide for EVERY Body by Trish Hutchison, Kathryn Lowe, and Melisa Holmes
These books often use highly gendered language like saying only girls have a uterus or girls only get crushes on boys or that there are only two genders. The four books below reject all of those concepts and all youth will feel welcomed and affirmed reading them with illustrations and language that are LGBTQ-inclusive. Read more about why these four puberty books are informational and inclusive, making them excellent options for your tween.
Puberty Is Gross, but Also Really Awesome by Gina Loveless and Lauri Johnston
As the title hints, the tone of this book tackles puberty with humor and a teen-friendly tone. Delivering fun facts in a lighthearted voice, the book covers everything from acne, sweat, genitalia, self-confidence, sleep, nutrition, menstruation, mental health, social media, dating, and much more. It doesn’t cover sex except for a couple of passing mentions.
The language is very inclusive of all genders and uses “assigned male” and “assigned female” instead of “male” and “female” when discussing bodies. There is also a full chapter dedicated to gender expression.
The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families by Rachel E. Simon and Noah Grigni
For readers ages eight to 12, this book covers sex, gender, bodies, and families in an LGBTQ-inclusive way just like the subtitle promises. Reproduction, hormones, and consent are all covered in gender-neutral language that celebrates all sexual identities and gender identities. Melissa Carnagey, founder of Sex Positive Families, says The Every Body Book is “inclusive, medically accurate, gender-affirming, body positive, and comprehensive in its delivery of the education young people need to understand bodies, identities, relationships, and sexual health” and adds that “it delivers information using a tone that invites young people’s curiosities and normalizes their unique experiences.”
You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth
The third in a trilogy after What Makes A Baby for ages three to seven and Sex Is A Funny Word for ages seven to 10, comes You Know, Sex for ages 10 to 14. While the title implies this is a sex-ed book more than a puberty book, there is plenty of important information about changing bodies in here for parents looking for a two-in-one option that uses gender-inclusive language. This book is less about body odor and sprouting hair and more about consent, boundaries, stigma, safety, families, pleasure, social justice, and self-discovery.
The book is fully LGBTQ-inclusive in every way, such as including a transgender boy on a page about periods. Same-sex relationships are included, as are intersex and asexual people. Reviewer Mombian says it is “arguably the most comprehensive and inclusive book on puberty to date, it deserves to be read by every young person.”
You-ology: A Puberty Guide for EVERY Body by Trish Hutchison, Kathryn Lowe, and Melisa Holmes
Published by the trusted American Academy of Pediatrics in 2022, You-ology tackles the issues of puberty in a gender-inclusive way. Using fictional characters who navigate the bodily and emotional changes tweens experience, this book leverages those examples to illustrate the information kids need to know and process about puberty. These characters include four transgender and nonbinary youth and the topics covered include pronouns and transgender-specific puberty concerns like wearing a binder to keep developing breasts flat against a chest or going on puberty-blocking medications.
Parents can feel comfortable giving this book to their younger tweens since it is purely about personal puberty changes and not about sex and intimate relationships with others. Besides acknowledging the transgender topics, the authors cover physical issues like body part development, menstruation, and acne and emotional ones like friendships, bullying, and cliques. While it doesn’t go so far as to talk about dating, it does mention crushes and while it doesn’t talk about sex, it does talk about masturbation. All of these topics are covered in gender-inclusive language.
Which of these four books might be the best for your child? Depending on which topics you want included, there is something for everyone. Whichever you choose, answering your growing tween’s questions is important and these books will help.
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